Heikki Kovalainen: Future of F1 and Hamilton's passions

Heikki Kovalainen 21:17 19/06/2015
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Heikki (l) has plenty of topics to discuss.

The Red Bull Ring in Austria is a very different type of F1 circuit for the drivers to combat. Qualifying this weekend will be extremely close because it’s a shorter track, consisting of lots of straight lines and not many high-speed corners, so it is difficult to make a big impact during qualifying. It’s usually a 1:08/1:09 lap time, which is relatively short. I expect Mercedes to dominate again and the Renault-powered cars to experience a tough weekend.

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It will be intriguing to see how McLaren do in Austria after all the changes they are making to their cars. However, it’s not just the performance that McLaren are missing, it’s also the reliability. To try and fix both of these elements is challenging to say the least. They have to be closer this year and scoring points to get some encouragement for next season and they have been experiencing more issues than expected for a team of their calibre. To get the new engine integrated with the chassis is proving to be more difficult than they thought and I can’t see them making a step towards the front anytime soon. 

Fernando Alonso wouldn’t have expected to experience this many problems during his maiden season at his new team. I’m sure he knew he wouldn’t be successful immediately when he signed but one of the reasons he went there was to try and replicate what Mercedes and Ferrari have done in the past. He was given an exclusive package that is the strongest in the team and is why he went there. He will be frustrated with the results but he has no other choice than to try his utmost to turn things around this season. 

Hulkenberg victory providing new route for F1 drivers?

Nico Hulkenberg winning Le Mans 24 Hours doesn’t change anything for the future of racing, I’m afraid. The problem in the past has been that drivers can’t get out of their Formula One duties. You were contracted to a team and weren’t allowed to take part in other races. This was a problem in years gone by but Force India have made an exception with Hulkenberg. It’s no surprise that he won the endurance race because Formula One has the best drivers. If you give a decent car to an F1 driver, they will be competitive wherever they race. 

Being a Formula One driver takes up way more time than you would imagine. Duties such as; simulator work, promotions and other tasks aside from the busy race schedule leave you with a minimal amount of spare time. It was a great thing for him to win though and the fact Nico was allowed to race was fantastic. I hope more drivers are able to follow Nico’s lead in the future and, you never know, perhaps more of the paddock will be tempted to try out other types of races after seeing Nico’s success.

Hamilton the rock star

Throughout his career, Lewis Hamilton has never been far from the back pages for an array of incidents that have nothing to do with F1; from his dress sense to celebrity female admirers. 

Back when I was Lewis’ team-mate, music was his main interest away from the track. He was thinking about writing and producing his own songs and was into rap and a bit of reggae. I never actually heard him sing but I think he’s actually been in a studio working on it so he can’t be that bad!

Perhaps he has more time to pursue this passion with Mercedes than when we were at McLaren. Formula One teams seemed to be more strict in the past than they are now. If it doesn’t effect Lewis’ driving, you should let him wear what he wants and take on more hobbies. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think he looks good in what he is wearing, but I’m not really interested in fashion, whereas Lewis obviously is. It’s nice that he can enjoy himself and ‘do his thing’. 

Heikki is currently based in Abu Dhabi and is racing in this year’s Japanese Super GT championship for Lexus Team SARD.

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